THE LOVE LIST OF CRETE
When it comes to beaches, you probably already know what Crete is capable of. It isn’t without reason that the exotic blue water and soft white sands of Balos and Elafonisi, on the westernmost coast, regularly feature in Top 10 lists of breathtaking beaches. If you’re based in Rethymno or Heraklion, it’s just a short journey for the picturesque village of Bali. Bali has four beaches, which are formed in sandy coves with nice greenish waters. But you could also head south to the twin beaches of Triopetra or secluded Agios Pavlos and intimate Lentas, a little further along the south coast. Likewise, Malia and Sitia, to the northeast, have rightly gained their popularity on the back of their sandy, organised beaches that tick every holiday box.
An extraordinary cultural legacy
Crete’s long and very proud history of invasion, rebellion, and trading on an island at the crossroads of all ancient Mediterranean civilisations have left a historical and archaeological legacy that is quite simply extraordinary. We start with the Minoan civilization, which flourished here from 3000-1200 BC – with the world-renowned palaces of Knossos, often referred to as Europe’s oldest city. But there are other Minoan settlements on Crete (notably Phaistos). And then there’s Spinalonga, that merges Venetian, Ottoman and Greek history and a unique way (from playing a role in the Cretan revolt against the Turks to being used as leper colony).
Discover the Cretan way of life
If you really want to get to know Crete – its people, traditions, food, legendary lifestyle – head to its villages. Whether in the mountains or along the coast, there are villages all around Crete with locals going about their business, seemingly untouched by time.
Big, big nature… and lots of it
If you know one gorge already, it will likely be the Samaria Gorge, in Chania’s Sfakia province, starting at the White Mountain’s Omalos Plateau and descending through a magical landscape of pine and cypress trees. A National Reserve, the White Mountains boasts a rich variety of flora and fauna, with a central massif of more than 50 peaks above 2km known as the Mountain Desert. Heading east is the impressive Psiloritis Mountains. In Rethymno, the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, in which flows the Megalos River, ends at the beach of Preveli (complete with palm groves).
Living the great outdoors
It should be clear by now… if you love the outdoors, you will love Crete. Whether it is the sea or mountain life, why stop yourself? Talking of the sea, there are many excellent dive sites but if you want one tip head to Chania’s Gramvousa Peninsula or Kalyves. With all those gorges, can we tempt you to try something new? You will need the help of a specialist company and the appropriate equipment, but how about canyoning? The gorges of Ha, Tsoutsouras, Kalami and Arvi are all recommendations. Next, we are sending you mountain biking in the Asterousia Mountain range, south of Heraklion, between the plain of Messara and the Libyan Sea. And you cannot leave Crete without having a little fun on the water. The popular family beaches in Sitia and Elounda Bay are ideal for hiring a Stand-Up Paddleboard or for other water sports, as Kouremenos beach, on in northeastern Lassithi, is for windsurfing and kite surfing.